Burrowye Station Express

Arts, Agriculture,Community,Country

Month: September, 2014

Blossom Viewing


We are in the middle of a most blazing spring, here at Burrowye.The ornamental cherry that James keeps wanting me to prune is a massive buzzing pink afro boa of a thing. Plums are declaring themselves with white blossom in the paddock. Some bulbs survived our rooting pig, and our rooting pig has not survived us.  After three years of bob cats and lawn mowers the lawns around the homestead are finally starting to sweep.  Even the pile of leaves and seeds under the liquid amber looks kind of regular and deliberate. I was discussing the Japanese sentiment for seasons with our guest Tray the other day. Cherry blossom parties are muddy wet slushy drunk kinds of things.  A clear day under the confetti is a superb thing, but most parties are held between puddles and raindrops, mud and tears. There is a melancholy in the froth, a nostalgia for spent youth, heartache for passing beauty.  I tried and failed to catch this in words, years ago:

I was a tree a buzz

A blazing barren plum

How should I mourn

Fleeting petals

How many more must come

No tears for rain around here – we had a few points this week. Hundred thousand dollar rain we called it. Million dollar rain according to the newspapers.  So the garden looks nearly amazing, there is a power of feed in the paddocks, we have good home grown meat in the freezer, a vegetable patch ready to go, two fine children….and all this incredible beauty is making me feel a bit funny. Could be nothing more than pollen.



On the Wallaby

When Joe was four months old, like Dora, we started travelling. By the time he was speaking he was asking for nights in “hoe tails”. Last Thursday we stayed at The Georgian in Albury. Joe voted it his best hoe tail ever – two rooms and a spa, big breakfast, kind staff. Dora Dora had fun too.



We had some time to kill in Circular Quay…I queued at the Luna Park ticket booth and missed our ferry. We had all been wondering why tall people had to pay more. James caught up on some work. Joe, Dora and I took a spin around the MCA. We saw a couple of Japanese artists – cartoon projections into space. It has been a long time since I was moved by anything in a gallery. We emerged after four point five minutes. An African guy smiled at me from his seat on a wall. He was looking at my Penelope Durston wax print dress. “My mother has so many of those dresses!” He said. “I’ve just got one, but it makes me happy!” I replied. Bold, roomy and shape shifting when you layer it, I love it.



Everything really lit up on the ferry ride. Joe ran round and round the deck, Dora was mesmerised and James played Skyscraper Cowboy.



We  got off at Hunters Hill, and read about The Great Northern Walk from Sydney to Newcastle.  We were inspired to do it.




We took a minute to study this sign. Part of this trip has been about coming to terms with our deep disillusionment with mainstream schools. Apparently “home school” in Victoria has more pupils than any other.  I wonder if we’ll be seeing more of these signs about the place….image

The reason for our trip – Gurrumul at The Opera House. Our kids were the only ones in the audience. He sang about “the octopus” of eight family dreamings. Deep ceremony for us. We wonder about our responsibilities to community and family and the pain we share with them. We wonder how long this walkabout will last and how far it will take us. I can still feel the music playing in my cells.

The view from the balcony at the house of my second cousin once removed. Ah Sydney you are a beautiful monster.image

                                                                                    Time to do a little needle work…


Treats for the eye, nose and soul….




Disturbances in the Ether

Our son has been taking these pictures













Strange days for so many of us.

Mr James Houston and Miss Dora Bella Houston of Burrowye Station, visit Mr Hugh Paton of Noorongong Station.

Mr James Houston and Miss Dora Bella Houston of Burrowye Station, visit Mr Hugh Paton of Noorongong Station.

Back in 2011, I was working in IT for the NSW Rail Infrastructure Corporation and studying Information Science at UTS and living as an artist in residence for the Glebe Chamber of Commerce (who to this day still wonder if I was a REAL artist). We had been given an essay topic about the idea of a “Digital Dark Age”. There was a theory around that as we handed more and more of our data over to “the technologies of remembrance”, information would be lost through hardware obsolescence. This was paralleled with the Dark Ages – when Roman rule declined, the great monasteries and libraries were destroyed and barbarian rule erased massive tracts of culture.

I dug out Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and read a bit more about the decline of the Roman Empire. One book described the impact of the barbarians – smaller, wilder forces able to short circuit the Roman systems with random attacks and behaviours that were just beyond the conception of the centurions. Terrorists, in other words. I was at my desk working on this paragraph when the planes flew into the buildings.

I never finished the essay, I quit the IT job, I left the patronage of the Chamber..and went back to the Mitta Valley to milk cows. I have to admit to some pretty weird acting out, as I made the transition from tanned, plucked, buffed Bondi Management Consultant to splashed, kicked, unwashed Noorongong Dairy Hand. The tan was maintained by fencing in my bikini. There is not a fence on my parent’s farm that I haven’t twitched. The perils of borrowing from The Bank of Dad. $22,000 in credit card debt is a lot of milking and fencing. Away from coffee shops and social life and the diesel electric hum of Sydney, burning with horror and outrage at the ravages of late western capitalism, I began to make art in earnest. And boy was I mad.


"No more Real Jobs" 2001 (Masaaki Matsishima collar, liquid paper, biro ink and stitching)

“No more Real Jobs” 2001 (Masaaki Matsishima collar, liquid paper, biro ink and stitching)



"We're in This World (To Rob Each other) 2001 (Glomesh purse, Kookai top)

“We’re in This World (To Rob Each other) 2001 (Glomesh purse, Kookai top)

It was a fertile time. Some people would brand doing commando rolls under barbed wire in a full trained wedding dress while foxes ran past as just another bi-polar symptom. But gee it was fun. And the video wasn’t bad either. At the end of the recovery period I had a shoe box full of mini-dv tapes. Moving postcards from the world beyond the edge. I made the mistake of showing my touch cuts to other film people. “I’m documenting the interior” I said to one director. “Indulgent”, he said. “Is all your work this RAW” commented another woman. To be honest, the responsibility of editing my nervous breakdown weighed incredibly heavy. What agonies documentary makers must go through.

Excerpt from The Wedding Machine 2001 digital video still

Excerpt from The Wedding Machine 2001 digital video still

When the debts were paid off, and all the art was made, I took ute loads to the Tallangatta tip. Over went the eight wedding dresses, the typewriters, the record players, the notebooks, the photographs…and my whole experimental experiential video oeuvre. Thirteen years later, my friend tells me that there is a photo app that automatically deletes the pictures after a few minutes. Technology is learning how to forget. Back then, I simply went to the desert.

Good things have been happening, bad things have been happening. We are moving closer to the point where we can escape all the forgetting and remembering. The tangled feedback loops. But we are not quite there yet.

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